RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday pardoned an innocent man who spent nearly 25 years in prison until after the FBI admitted analysts it trained repeatedly gave flawed evidence about tracing hair left at crime scenes.
McCrory's office said the governor called Timothy Scott Bridges on Thursday to tell him about the decision to grant a pardon of innocence, which makes Bridges eligible to receive up to $750,000 for the 24 years and seven months he was unjustly imprisoned.
Bridges had been sentenced to life for breaking into a home and raping an 83-year-old Charlotte woman in 1989.
The prosecution built its case on microscopic hair analysis, which was often described as wrongly identifying individual persons. An FBI-trained Charlotte police analyst testified two hairs found at the crime scene likely came from Bridges. A bloody palm print found at the scene didn't match Bridges.
Bridges was released from prison 13 months ago. An FBI review of hair analysis testimony to jurors by FBI-trained experts and the bureau's forensic examiners for decades overstated what was scientifically valid.
Prosecutors dismissed the indictments against Bridges earlier this year. New DNA tests performed after his release found no evidence of Bridges' DNA on a men's coat found on the bed at the crime scene or a cigarette butt found in the coat's pocket.
Bridges is now suing the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department and three forensic specialists. The lawsuit alleges they hid evidence that might have shown Bridges' innocence, including leads on another suspect who had committed rapes and incentives offered to testifying witnesses.